Nearly everyone has heard of Nero "fiddling while Rome burned". The true story of The Great Fire of 64 is debated but many believe Nero had the fire started to build his monumental "Golden House". There were reports that Nero climbed a tower in a stage costume and played the lyre while exulting in "the beauty of the flames". Afterwards, to assuage the throngs of homeless Romans, Nero tried to use the Christian population as scapegoats and blame the fire on them.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, China was emerging from centuries of rule by the Manchu, the descendants of Mongolian nomads who had conquered the Middle Kingdom in 1644. The new Guomindang (GMD) party was a broad alliance of modernizers.